Thursday, October 27, 2011

Fiction: "Service"

She sat by candle light, the weighty tome open in front of her. Her fingers trail over the pages, reading aloud. "Esarus thar no'Darador'," her voice echoes in the quiet, and with a smile she speaks again, whispering, "By Blood and Honor, We Serve."

Pushing back from the desk, she settles back and looks to the window - over the horizon, over the hills and rooftops above the township the first rays of light begin peering over the horizon, and the girl frowned, solemnly cursing, "...again?"

As the sun rose over Hearthglen, the trumpets sounded, blowing strong into the air - and the field grew crowded, heavy with the Argent Crusade recruits - the girl shuffling to the lines, slipping into the back of the rows of troops, as the drill instructor ahead called forth, "KER-AIN NORTH, FRONT AND CENTER!"

The girl sighs, and slumps, moving forward, her plate armor shining yellow in the rising sun, the libram on her belt hanging on one hip, sword and shield sheathed upon her back. The Argent Crusade tabard she wore wafted softly in the breeze, as she stands tall, proud, snapping a sharp salute, "Reporting, sir!"

The instructor paces - the night elven warrior stands tall in his plate armor, Argent Crusade tabard pressed neatly, the hanging tails swaying beneath him as he moves, pacing around the girl. She stands firm, holding her salute, but gives herself a moment to swallow hard when he paces behind her, biting her lip as he lingers, before pacing around in front of her again. "Miss North, I note you've shown up rather disheveled. The Argent Crusade is the Light's army. We've fought in these Plaguelands for many years before now as the Argent Dawn - we were the rays of hope when Naxxramas appeared, and on the shores of Northrend, we were the razor pointed arrowtip that sunk into the neck of the beasts of the Scourge," he looked about to the other recruits, then gestured to them, "They had the decency of showing up properly dressed. Your tabard is backwards. Your armor isn't properly fastened. And the plank of metal with the Lordaeron crest on it is hardly-"

"I, I am of Lordaeron, sir," she interrupted. Her voice shook, and she looked up towards him, craning her head back to meet the eyes of the elven man as he stood above her. "And I know of the Argent Dawn and the Knights of the Silver Hand. Where the Horde and Alliance have abandoned, we have fought, and we have taken, and we have held."

"I'm glad you spend the time you could be preparing for the mornings studying what the Argent Crusade is about," he says, offering a small smile and a nod, before his countenance turned stern again, "But if I'm to prepare you for battle, you have to show up ready for it. And you have not! Report to the Mess Hall; we'll have you peeling potatoes until you're proven ready!"


The walk to the mess hall had been quiet, and it took everything Kerain had not to show any emotion. Her lips pursed, her eyes steadied, and she bit the inside of her cheek as she approached the hall, and the chef shook his head as he saw the girl approach, the gnome speaking up, "At this rate, we're gonna run out of potatoes the way they keep sending you here. Well, the stool's still in there from last time... get yerself settled in."

She nodded, and offered a wave and weak smile as she pushed into the pantry. She unfastened the shield and sword, setting them gingerly against the wall, following suit with the plate belt, settign that upon the stool before her. She tugged at the tabard, shifting it about her neck, resetting everything neatly into place, as well as reaching down and grabbing the tail, raising and stretching the fabric to look down upon the length.

The star of the Argent Crusade stood proud in the center of her chest, and within the golden center, the silver-threaded hand caught the sun's rays. Kerain sighs, smilling as she reties it and refastens the plate belt around her waist, locking the belt tighter, and smoothing everything out, and sighing as she settles upon the stool, taking a potato in hand, and grumbling at it, "Potato? Some days, you know, you're my only friend."


Time passed, the sun moved, the light dimmed in the pantry, and the potatoes were peeled. A small knife in Kerain's pocket slowly removed the skin from each potato, before tossing the leavings into one basket, and the workable potato into another. After some time, the chef toddled in, and the gnome chuckled a bit as he threw a fresh bag in front of her. "Look, these spuds ain't gonna skin themselves. I was gonna let 'em go, but if you're doing whatever it is that gets ya sent here, you can cut up a few MORE spuds and-"

From outside, shouts and calls to arms, the ringing of a bell, and shouts, "SCOURGE! SCOURGE INCOMING! SCOURRRRGEEEEEE!"

The gnome chef hustles, slamming the pantry door behind him, Kerain grabbing her shield and sword, and shoving through slamming the door open, barrelling through the mess hall to the outside, the sky blue above and the grass green below. The Argent Crusaders charged forth towards the township's gate, Hearthglen's path filled with the soldiers of the Argent Crusade - and in the distance, the Abomination towered over all, arms raised high into the sky and smashing down, the chains snaking through the crowd of trainees as it continued to lumber forth, whipping the chains upwards and flinging the recruits aside.

Kerain's eyes went wide as she stared. The Abomination towered, its arms smashing a colossal cleaver through the crowd of Crusade trainees, crying out, "PLAYTIME!"

She shakes, shivering, watching him approach, swinging the chain back over its head, and forth smashing it upon the ground, slapping people away with its third arm. Guards continue to rush forth, as the calls go out, "FOR THE HIGHLORD! FOR THE CRUSADE!" 

Mages stream from their towers, their magics flying to stun, to slow the Abomination, and Kerain moves, forward, slow, her plated boots falling upon the dirt.

The instructor crawls away from the carnage, his sword broken, but still in hand, his eyes hazy as he looks up, "Ker-ain?"

She falls to her knees beside him, dropping the sword and shield and placing her hands upon him, the light glowing bright as she grits her teeth over him, his breathing slowing and normalizing. She speaks out, "This isn't going to be as good as a real battle medic, but, at least you shouldn't be in too much pain any more. Just, uh, it'll be okay! Really!"

The Abomination in the distance slashed and struck and swung about wildly, and Kerain looked between the Abomination and the Instructor, before reaching blindly, grabbing the sword and shield, and marching towards the fray, shaking in her boots. Her voice shakes, and the Crusade troops about her stagger, slow their charge at the monster as she raises her shield, and bellows, her voice clear, "ESARUS THAR NO'DARADOR! BY BLOOD AND HONOR WE SERVE!" Thrusting the sword tip towards the Abomination, she cries, "FOR LORDAERON!"

Kerain charges, before she glances aside at the sword, and her eyes go wide, the blade broken in half - but in charge, she couldn't stop, the beast ahead of her, Abomination raising its chain up over it's head, roaring and swinging forward to crash upon the ground. Kerain darts to the side, and charges forward still, broken sword clenched in one hand and shield on her arm, cursing herself as she moves out of the way, "This is stupid this is stupid this is stupid this is stupid!"

The Abomination rages, and up close, Kerain struggles to shut her nose - the beast's stomach hanging open, foul smell of rot and decay from it's open guts and the swaying of its intestines distracting- but the mass shifted, moved, and the cleaver rose, swung! She rose the shield, and fell to a leg, kneeling before the monster, throwing the shield up at an angle - the cleaver scraping, sparks flying, before she pushed it over, rising to her feet again, shield held tight in her arms, as she shakes, her eyes still wide with panic, but the beast moves, and shifts, chains raising up again, before the girl shoves the broken sword in between the holes, stomping the hilt deep into the dirt, slowing the beasts' turn as she places a hand upon the Libram at her hip, narrowing her eyes and watching as the beast pulls itself free with a single heft.

It turns, its gaze angered, eyes locked upon Kerain's, as she raises the shield, hiding behind it, raising the shield up, ready, before the beast swings the cleaver again, wild, "LITTLE THING WILL NOT STAND!"

The cleaver swings, and Kerain watches, the shield held tight, before she drops to her hands and knees, letting the blade swing overhead, before fetching up to her feet again, bolts of fire and ice flying over her as they pepper the monster crashing against the beast and staggering it back, the girl charging forward with the shield to push the beast back, swinging it hard, before pulling it free from her arm, and throwing it to the beast's face, shield glowing hot with the Light as it strikes, flying back and landing in the dirt before her, the beast smashing the chain into the ground again, the girl stumbling, staggering away before falling upon the ground.

The Abomination raises it's cleaver, with a glint in it's eye. From beneath the monster seems to grin as it's guttural voice echoes, "NO MORE PLAY!"

Kerain shut her eyes, and then, there was Light. It shone even with her eyes shut, and when she opened them, the Abomination was frozen in place, and... she blinked, watching it tower above her, stagger forth and back, rocking on it's legs before finally falling back, the sound of it's falling against the ground as loud as the chains it flailed with. Kerain fell back breathing heavily, and saying, to no one in particular. "...that was stupid."

"Some could say stupidity is another phrase for bravery, Miss North," a new voice echoes. "Which you've shown greatly here today. Though, I must ask, was the broken sword intentional?"

She looks up from her spot on the ground, and the sword - the armor. All so familiar, as her eyes widen, her mouth agape, before she scrambles to her feet, snapping a sharp salute to the man before her, "Highlord Fordring, Sir!"

The eldery gentleman laughs, and the blade of the Highlord, the Ashbringer shines in the midday sun. The sword changes hands and he returns her salute, before laughing, and crossing the distance, patting the girl on the shoulder. "It's heartening to see someone so young take an interest in the Light, someone willing to stand their ground. I'd hoped we'd armed you better than with broken swords though..."

"N-no sir! It, it wasn't... I picked up the sword nearest and-" she swallowed hard, before stiffening, her salute held, and shaking, "S-sir, I'm sorry, I shouldn't have been- I need to- uh. I mean!"

"Now, now," he laughs, "You've done well today. If we've a few more paladin like yourself in the rosters, the future of Azeroth is assuredly safe. But, that broken sword! Those words! You've been studying a friend of mine! I'll speak to the mess hall, have them bring up a meal, and we can share stories of the Second War, it sounds like you'd be of a mind to hear that. How does that sound?"

"Highlord Fordring, sir?" She asks, uncomfortable, "If I may? May I return to peeling the potatoes now...? If I don't finish, there won't be enough for the others to eat tonight."

Before an answer, she moved, ducked, and ran to fetch the shield, pulling it free from the ground where it had stuck, and swung it about, fastening it to her back, running through the camp back to the mess hall... biting her lip again, but this time, fighting the wide grin that grew on her face as she trundled back to her chore, her punishment, her duties. 


  1. Aw, this was great! You did a fantastic job characterizing Kerain, and the ending really made me smile :)

    One question - you've got a paragraph about halfway that starts "She gnome chef hustles" - I think this should be "The gnome chef hustles"?

    Wonderful story!

  2. @Jad/Vit

    Yes, it should be, and I do need to fix it. Thank you for the comment; everybody likes to hear they aren't playing to an empty room!